I shall begin with by stating that this blog is actually a few months old, however as I am keen for a greater readiship as entailed by blogging on thelocal.se, I feel the need for my new readers to sample what many of my friends have already had a taste of. This blog consists of my experiences of life as an exchange student from London, England (just so were clear) and is a brash no punches pulled account (I hope, atleast) of life from the perspective of a new arrival (yes i hear you say,” aren’t half the blogs on the local about that anyway”…probably, but not as good as mine). Anyway here is my first blog that I wrote way back at the start of October. I will write shiny new blogs for you in future but for now here you go.
I wondered how I would cope with being away from home and the things that I have become accustomed to. I mean I’m not one of those people who get homesick but at the same time I do tend to be a creature of habit, like so many, dwelling in the comfortable bubble that is our everyday surroundings and people we know. These things keep us grounded, keep us rooted to this mundane existence, keep us trapped. I have always admired those people who leave home and spread their wings, and no I don’t mean those “gap yaah” types, on some self enrichment trip that serves to only boost their narrow view of the world, to deprived and depraved ports of call, charity anecdotes and potential drug mule fodder, we don’t care which African village you rescued from typhoid or how many orphans you could squeeze into your facebook profile picture. Rant Over. I admire those brave explorers who ventured to places as grim as up north, lord knows as a southerner I am suspicious of anything past Watford. I salute the adventurers.
I am in Stockholm; I have been for over a month. It’s surprisingly familiar or at the very least it is not completely alien, there are places in Stockholm that would fit snugly into the West End or into the far reaches of Camden. On more than one occasion I have wandered around Stockholm’s streets and observed the rich surroundings, Sweden is a beautiful place. The Swedes themselves also are pleasing to the eye (more of that another time though).
I am a University student on his exchange year, upon my arrival I was looking forward to fresher’s week, (as is the custom in England).
Freshers week according to wikipedia, for thos unfamiliar with the UK definition: (I have helpfully highlighted the most relevant bits to any student)
United Kingdom and Ireland
As well as providing a chance to learn about the university, Fresher’s week allows students to become familiar with the representatives of their Student Union and to get to know the city or town which is home to the university, often through some form of pub crawl.
Live music is also common, as are a number of organized social gatherings especially designed to allow freshers to make new friends and to get to know their course colleagues. Because of the intensity of activities, there are often many new friendships made, especially in group accommodation, some which do not last past Freshers Week and others that last for the whole University career and longer.
Typically a Freshers’ Fair for student clubs and societies is included as part of the activities to introduce new students to facilities on offer, typically outside their course of study, such as societies, clubs, sport, etc. The various societies and clubs available within the University have stalls and aim to entice freshers to join. Most campuses take the opportunity to promote safe sex to their students and sometimes offer leaflets on the subject and free condoms, as well as promoting the Drinksafe campaign. The aim is to lower the rate of sexually transmitted disease and to reduce the level of intoxication commonly witnessed in Freshers’ Week.
Larger cities like Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle, Leeds etc tend to be the best places for nightlife in freshers’ week. Often in these cities companies will go to great lengths to win over students in order to get them to attend their nights, often leading to fierce competition between the promotions companies. This is because most freshers’ week attendees tend to associate the nightlife as what freshers’ week really is, all other university related business is either not attended or met with great annoyance.
Cue disappointment, for while the Swedes are gracious hosts, and were most accommodating in many of the ways I thought they would fall short, they fail miserably at anything that includes alcohol thus prepare for shock horror students…there was no pub on campus, no bar, no club, just cafes lots and lots of bleeding cafes. I mean they have no dedicated boozer anywhere near campus, I am refusing to include proffesorn a small restaurant in the student square that serves alcohol but its layout clearly indicates that it is more of an eatery than a dedicated watering hole. The lack of an SU bar was a blow but I dealt with it, however upon a trip to the supermarket to stock up on the good stuff in preparation for an almighty week long piss up, cue even more disappointment, as I found out that 3.5% ABV actually passed for alcohol. Seriously. A more travelled lad would have known about the systembolaget monopoly; however I had assumed it was some cruel wind up to newbies, perhaps that famous Scandinavian humour. I was wrong.
Thus no fresher’s week to speak of officially, no pub crawls, no foam raves, no UV parties, no wet t-shirt contests, no Silent Discos or C-list pop act or Z-list celeb dj set. The Swedes were puzzled by the hedonistic fiesta that I described as an average fresher’s week. They found it hard to believe that a Student Union was responsible for getting people pissed for an entire week. Ah the differences. You may now assume that I haven’t enjoyed the university nightlife. Wrong. I am a raver, and they have been numerous nights out which will form subjects of later blogs. In the meantime, it’s nice to have words on the page.
Things Kings Has enjoyed this week:
Östermalmstorg – Expensive shops, Girls with dogs in their bags, more Porsches than makes sense, a slice of Mayfair in Stockholm.
Asking Swedish woman for directions to the parliament building, her response “hmm it’s quite close I think, you may have to take a bus though.” Later discover we were actually standing outside its main doors. FAIL.
Frozen Kebabs- Yes you can buy them here at supermarkets.
Hipflasks- Fill it with cheap whisky, get to the club buy some coke, drunk as a skunk. WIN.
Filthy Dubstep-Introducing the uninitiated to various forms of UK music genres. Their expressions when hearing grime, dubstep, funky house, bassline for the first time. PRICELESS
Systembolaget on Friday- Swedes stocking up on alcohol for the weekend, ha-ha.